Congressional Hearings on Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal – Testimony by Mike Snyder

Below are some excerpts from today’s Congressional testimony on the NASA budget.

My name is Mike Snyder and it has been my honor and privilege to work on the Space Shuttle Program for the past 13 years. I am not a civil servant, a CEO of a major aerospace corporation or even a member of senior management. I am an engineer and one of the tens-of-thousands of people across America who work daily on this Nation’s efforts in human spaceflight programs. The views you hear today are my own but I can assure you they are representative and shared by many in the aerospace workforce at large.

Today, I must inform you that morale across the entire human space flight workforce, civil servant and contractor, is extremely low. The lowest I have seen it in all my years of service.

Perhaps the single biggest contributor to the low morale is the perceived lack of any vision, purpose or detailed plans with clearly defined goals, objectives and timetables for the future of human spaceflight. We can all agree that Research and Development (R&D) is vitally important. However, R&D without direction and purpose, without a planned and well-defined operational concept is no more useful or sustainable than assuming we can explore the solar system and beyond without development of new technologies. I cannot stress enough the importance of having an over-arching program with clearly defined goals that focus these R&D efforts to near term as well as long term capabilities with the intent and strong National will to use them. Congress must not let our Nation fall into the trap yet again that vaguely ties these technologies and capabilities to some future date, future Administration and future Congress – because that way will ensure, in my opinion, that these expensive initiatives never bear fruit and will serve only as a disservice to this industry’s current and future workforce and to the United States of America as a whole.

Along these lines, we are all told by our Center Directors, company CEOs, and our senior management that more information will be communicated about the direction of the Agency. However, the problem is that they do not yet know either. What the everyday worker does know is the inescapable fact that two of three of this Nation’s major human space flight programs are proposed to be terminated.

Mr. Snyder’s complete testimony can be found here. The three major programs referred to are Shuttle, Constellation (both being ended), and the International Space Station.

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